Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Get Rec'd: Jellicoe Road

I created this feature back in March, and I'm so excited to be continuing it! So if you missed that first post, I'll sum it up for you: Get Rec'd is basically where you recommend, whether straight-up or offhandedly, a certain book, but you'll never know when I actually read it! Why? Because I like secret reading, guys. It's fun.

*****

And this one is brought to you OFFICIALLY by Rashika. But she was not the only one to push this book, and so I also have Bekka, Alexia, Sara, Jamie, and Danielle to thank for telling me to read it too!

God, do you know how hard it was to secret read this book? I HAD TO STOP MYSELF A DOZEN TIMES FROM TWEETING ABOUT THE MAGNIFICENCE OF THIS BOOK. IT WAS REALLY FUCKING HARD, GUYS. I SHOULD PROBABLY NOT HAVE GONE THROUGH THIS BOOK ALONE, BUT WELL... Anyway, I have A LOT of thoughts and feelings to spew at you all now! So, you know, get ready.

*****

*Minor spoilers!

I’ve been hearing about this book FOREVER, it seems. Since I’ve read Finnikin of the Rock and loved it, I knew Melina Marchetta’s writing was for me. So I figured this was book would be an excellent choice to start off 2016 right. But omg, I’m caught between holy shit this book nothing is ever going to outshine it this year what a perfect choice and why the fuck did I wait so long to read this Holly you’re such an idiot for putting it off after you got a copy? It did take me a long time to ease into the story. Things were so, so confusing in the beginning, and I had no idea what was happening. And it took a little bit of patience on my end, and more of an effort to keep myself into the story. But once everything started making more sense, and the story was easier to follow along with, I was so hooked on the main character’s voice, and I couldn’t stop reading.

Taylor Markham is chosen as the Lachlan’s house leader, reluctantly. She doesn’t seem to care about the wars, or about anything, really. She’s pretty much an orphan, bitter about the world and about her life. Feeling trapped by her past and all of the kids in her House leaning on her for comfort and safety. And when her friend, Hannah, disappears, those feelings of helplessness just increase tenfold. I’ll be honest, Taylor isn’t an easy character to like (and, well, neither is Jonah). She’s cold, pushes people away who just want to make her feel loved and cared for, and she makes decisions without thinking of the consequences or of who’s going to get hurt by it. But underneath that hardened, tough exterior is just a girl who doesn’t know how to let the shadows of her past stop her from moving on. She doesn’t know who she is, and throughout the book, she’s learning right along with you. I loved her story; I loved her character.I loved her strength and her fierceness. I loved that she wanted to be a better person, and that she started trying. I loved that she didn’t let anything stop her from going after the answers she so desperately wanted. And what she finds is, not only her past, but a future worth living for.

And in that future lies people she never expected to be in it, least of all Jonah fucking Griggs. This guy. Whoa, boy. He’s not a nice guy. In fact, he’s kind of an asshole who does assholish things and who never apologizes for them. But his actions speak louder than his words, and so, even when he’s being a dick, you can tell there’s a heart underneath that roughness. He just doesn’t really show it, not even to Taylor. But as you learn more about him, you find that perhaps he’s just a kid who’s just sad, who’s hurt and embittered about the world. Perhaps he’s just using that meanness to keep people away, because he doesn’t want to get hurt further than he has been. Perhaps, he even deserves a bit of forgiveness for the way he speaks to others, and to Taylor. Though I feel like we could have gotten to know him better, that he could have been a bit more well-rounded as a character, I think I see the reason why he’s not. Because this wasn’t about him, it was never about him or what he could be to Taylor. The story was Taylor’s story, but one that he wanted to be a part of. She didn’t NEED him to be a better or stronger person, but she had his support and his fumbling attempts to give her the romance she deserves.

Melina Marchetta has this subtle way of writing, where she doesn’t outright tell you something, but uses her words in such a way that it has more impact. I don’t even know if that made sense, but omg, just like. She’s a phenomenal storyteller, and the way she unraveled the two colliding stories was utterly brilliant. I’m not sure if I was supposed to be paying close attention to the connections, but I did. And because I did, nothing was a surprise to me. I was able to figure out (almost) everything that had happened in the past, and about how Taylor was connected to the accident that happened 22 years before. But you know what? Knowing didn’t matter. I was still hit with the impact of everything. I was still caught up in the mystery that Taylor is trying to figure out. The question of “where is Hannah” led her on a quest that helped her move on from her past. And man, the manuscript, the story of the five kids whose lives were irrevocably changed on the Jellicoe Road that fateful day, dug deep into my heart. I was just as invested in the past as I was in Taylor’s present. I was not expecting that, nor was I expecting the amount of tears I shed over a book that I never thought would be… inspiring.

And I think that had to do with the friendships in this book, the connections between people who you would never expect to become family to one another. Through a tragedy, five lives are forever changed. And over the course of the story, you see how much strength and happiness and peace is gained through the connections the characters have with each other. And that happens with Taylor, also. Not only does she find a relationship with Jonah, one that gives her courage and support, but she finally starts to let other people in. Raffaela, Santangelo, Ben, Hannah. The former two, they become hands to hold as Taylor’s life unravels and she loses sight of who she is. But don’t think that means they’re one-dimensional or anything. Maybe except for Ben, everyone else has their own stories and personalities too, and it makes the book even richer. I especially loved the scenes with Raffy, Santangelo, Jonah, and Taylor. They became their own gang, outside of the wars, and one that gave Taylor a new appreciation for life. Because they stuck by her through everything, even when she tried to push them away. And that kind of friendship, the unshakable kind, is beautiful to behold!

This book was expectedly and unexpectedly brilliant. I don’t know how to really express the ways in which this story meant the world to me, but I tried. I hope I did it justice. Jellicoe Road was so much more than what I had thought I would get out of this story when I started it. And I know, I know this book isn’t going to be one that I’ll forget anytime soon. Nor will its characters, who managed to break and heal me in the same moment. It was a stunning, honest, and deeply felt story that captured my heart completely.

brb moving to Jellicoe Road.

RATING:
    

*****

In all honesty, it was actually pretty nice secret reading this. Of course I would have loved to have yelled about it on Twitter DURING my read, but I also loved that it was just ME and the book and no outside opinions. Since I've let people's thoughts affect my own before, I liked having a quiet time with the book. BUT YAY NOW I CAN FINALLY TALK ABOUT IT SO HOLLA!